After the announcement of Dragon’s Maze as the final set of Return to Ravnica block, a lot of rumor hounds in the Magic community immediately started making speculative guesses about the set. Many of those theories are interesting, but they won’t be proven or disproven for a long time. One thing, however, we know for sure: Ral Zarek, the Izzet planeswalker made famous by Duels of the Planeswalkers, will make his first-ever card appearance, based on the art from the announcement.
But what will that card look like? Ral is going to be the first bi-colored blue and red planeswalker (a distinction that has to be made because of Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker) and is affiliated with the Izzet guild; from that we can conclude that his abilities probably support the Izzet’s instants-and-sorceries theme. He is also referred to in the flavor as a wielder of lightning and electrical forces, which typically have gone along with burn spells ever since Lightning Bolt. However, that burn probably won’t be his primary focus, given that’s Chandra Nalaar’s theme and that would be stepping on her toes.
So how would those themes play out over the course of three planeswalker abilities? I’ll list my guesses for each ability here, in descending order from most to least likely.
Plus ability: There are only a couple of fair abilities that work with instants and sorceries at sorcery speed (since planeswalker abilities always work like sorceries). A couple of viable possbilities:
- +1: Put up to one target instant or sorcery card from your graveyard on top of your library.
- +1: Reveal the top four cards of your library. You may put an instant or sorcery card from among them into your hand. Then put the rest on the bottom of your library in any order.
The former is more likely due to the latter’s similarity to Domri Rade of Gatecrash’s +1.
Minus ability: This is likely where the burn component comes in, but there are plenty of other possibilities as well; this seems to be the most open-ended ability slot.
- -3: Ral Zarek deals 3 damage divided as you choose among one, two, or three target creatures. Tap each creature dealt damage in this way and they don’t untap during their controllers’ next untap steps.
- -3: Target player skips his or her next untap step unless he or she has Ral Zarek deal 5 damage to him or her.
- -3: Draw a card for each spell you cast this turn.
- -2: Add UURR to your mana pool. Spend this mana only to cast instant or sorcery spells.
- -2: Double all damage that would be dealt by instant or sorcery spells you cast this turn.
Ultimate: As with just about every planeswalker, Ral’s ultimate should tie strongly into his theme. An emblem, of course, is a viable possibility for a very permanent and game-winning effect.
- -7: You get an emblem with “Whenever you cast an instant or sorcery spell, that spell deals 3 damage to target creature or player and you may draw two cards.”
- -7: You get an emblem with “You may cast instant and sorcery cards from your hand without paying their mana costs.”
- -8: Reveal the top twelve cards of your library. You may cast any number of instant or sorcery cards revealed in this way without paying their mana costs.
- -8: For each instant or sorcery spell you cast this turn, take an extra turn after this one.
- -9: You get an emblem with “Whenever an instant or sorcery spell you control would deal damage, it deals that much damage plus 9 instead.”
What do you think Ral Zarek will wind up looking like? Let me know in the comments.